Nov 14

Foul Balls and Diamond Rings

It was customary during this period to return the ball to the club so it would continue to be used in the game. First two tales about foul balls in Washington from 1899.

A little humorous by-play occurred in the grand stand in the eighth inning. An old ball was fouled into the seats, and the Washington players called to the spectators to keep it out, as they were at the bat and wanted a new ball. Aleck Smith climbed into the stand after the sphere, but “Doc” Jones, John Hogan. “Dug” Allison and other thirty-third degree rooters, captured the ball and it was passed to the rear stand with dexterity.

“Dug” is the nickname for Doug Allison. A great major league catcher during the early years of the game, his career spanning three decades. Dug, a long time District resident died in 1916 and is buried in Rock Creek Cemetery.

In Chicago one Sunday thirty-four baseballs were lost, an unheard of number for the time. It was said that most if not all of them fell into the hands of greedy small boys. One paper reporting, “The struggles of the police to recover the balls furnished as much amusement to the crowd as did the game.”

We saw this in Fenway Park, although the amusement there was caused by the police chasing underage drinkers in the bleaching seats. Although the race to grab the inflatable female was one to remember.

Most teams would send a business manger into the stands, although a policeman or player would do in a pinch. Players on the hospital list would often be assigned as ticket takers. Most cities usually had a surplus of policemen at the park anyway. In a 1918 game in Washington the crowd was amused when one fan attempting to throw the ball back in the field hit a policeman.

Speaking of the law, Gene DeMontreville, a popular player during his days in Washington had his own troubles.

The press release is from 1899, “Second Baseman, Gene DeMontreville, whose gold watch and diamond charm were stolen from his hotel room when the Orioles were last in New York, received a letter yesterday from the New York detective department saying that the watch had been found in a pawnshop. It will cost him $15 or more to get it. He will probably go to New York to identify the watch next Sunday. Last year, while with the Orioles, DeMontreville was robbed of a diamond ring and scarf pin. A pair of diamond cuff buttons was stolen from John McGraw‘s room in a Chicago hotel some years ago. Many other robberies of ball players have occurred.